Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Feeling Rushed: Gendered Time Quality, Work Hours, Nonstandard Work Schedules, and Spousal Crossover

Academic journal article Journal of Marriage and Family

Feeling Rushed: Gendered Time Quality, Work Hours, Nonstandard Work Schedules, and Spousal Crossover

Article excerpt

Time scarcity is at the center of significant concern about the quality of contemporary family life (Edwards & Wajcman, 2005). Excessive time demand and overwork limit opportunity for recuperative activities necessary to health and well-being and may diminish the quality of leisure time (Roger & Amato, 2000; Strazdins, Broom, Banwell, McDonald, & Skeat, 2011). Time pressures, both objective in terms of workload and subjective in terms of feeling rushed and harried, can arise from both the public sphere of work and the private sphere of the home (Kleiner, 2014). Also, time is both an individual and a family resource; the way each member of a household spends time has implications for how others in the family spend and experience theirs. The time commitments of each partner in couple families thus potentially matter to their spouse's time demand and time stress as well as their own. Yet little research has explicitly examined connections between couples' time commitments and each partner's subjective time pressure. Men and women experience the demands of work and family differently, so there are likely to be gender differences in cross-spousal associations. In this study we explored this issue, looking at how family demand, work hours, and work schedules of both mothers and fathers relate to the quality of their non-employment time and to each spouse's subjective time pressure.

Background

A major factor contributing to family time scarcity is the amount of time spent in market work. The mass entry of women into the paid workforce has profoundly changed household time allocation patterns and represents a major reallocation of family time to the labor market (Strazdins et al., 2011). For example, three decades ago fathers were the sole breadwinners in most U.S. families, resulting in a family allocation of just over 44 hours a week to paid work. By 2000, most U.S. couples with children were dual earners, devoting more than 80 hours a week to paid work (Jacobs & Gerson, 2004). Furthermore, recent research indicates that in neoliberal countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and Australia, average individual working hours have increased (Gershuny, 2011). This suggests a reversal of earlier trends toward increasing leisure (Robinson & Godbey, 1997). In Australia, for example, over 40% of full-time employees now work more than 50 hours a week (Pocock, Skinner, & Williams, 2012). This applies mostly to men rather than women (Craig & Mullan, 2009). However, we would expect both members of couples in which one partner works long hours to feel the time pressures they create. Thus, we investigated how household work hours, arising both from couples' combined participation and long average work weeks, contribute to each partner's subjective time pressure.

Potentially adding to family time pressures are contemporary work schedules. A substantial proportion of employees in neoliberal countries work nonstandard hours (Rapoport & Le Bourdais, 2008). There is reason to expect that work timing has additional implications for time pressure over and above amount of hours worked (Craig & Brown, 2014). A body of research suggests that nonstandard work schedules have detrimental effects on employees' health and well-being, on their job satisfaction, and on their work-life balance (Bardasi & Francesconi, 2000; Presser, 2003; Shields, 2002; Tausig & Fenwick, 2001). The negative outcomes of nonstandard work are thought to arise at least in part from the constraints it places on how employees can spend their non-work time, including making it difficult to coordinate time with others (La Valle, Arthur, Millward, & Scott, 2002). Finding it hard to fit activities and social contact around work schedules may heighten feelings of subjective time pressure. Like work hours, work schedules potentially affect not only the individual who works them but also others in the family. …

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